At the ASCD Conference on Sunday, Russell Quaglia encouraged hundreds of teachers and administrators to listen to and learn from their students. In his presentation, Moving Forward with Our Greatest Resource: The Students, Quaglia emphasized the importance of helping learners develop aspiration—the ability to dream and set goals for the future while being inspired in the present to reach these dreams. To experience academic success, students must believe in their ability to be successful. Quaglia shared three guiding principles for helping students reach their full potential:
Students need to feel valued, which begins with a notion of belonging—feeling as though they’re part of a community but still an individual. Be aware of “nothing/nowhere/fine” responses from students, and challenge yourself to wait for a response after asking a student, “How are you?"
Engagement, a delicate balance between interest and opportunities, is key to cultivating a desire to learn new things. Quaglia highlighted the importance of making learning fun by nurturing natural curiosity and creativity.
Students must develop a sense of purpose to take responsibility for who and what they want to become. Quaglia encouraged the audience to ask learners, “Who do you want to be when you grow up? What kind of person do you want to be?”
Quaglia’s call to action for teachers is to listen to and learn from students. Student voice can be an instrument of change, and bring our hopes and dreams for them within reach.